SC to Kerala Govt – Follow our orders given in Kanwar Yatra case for Bakrid
The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday termed “wholly uncalled for” the Kerala government’s relaxations for Bakrid in areas with high COVID-19 positivity rate and said giving in to pressure from traders discloses a “sorry state of affairs”. Pressure groups of all kinds, religious or otherwise, cannot in any manner interfere with the most precious Fundamental Right to Life of all the citizens of the country, the apex court said. The apex court directed the Kerala government to give heed to Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution and follow the law laid down in its orders passed in the Uttar Pradesh Kanwar Yatra matter.
While hearing the Uttar Pradesh Kanwar Yatra matter on July 16, the top court had observed that all sentiments, including religion, are subservient to the Right to Life. A bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai noted it is “extremely alarming” that in category D areas, where the infection is the highest at 15 percent, a full day of relaxation was granted in Kerala on Monday.
The SC noted that the affidavit filed by Kerala discloses a “sorry state of affairs” and does not in any real manner safeguard the Right to Life and Health guaranteed to all the citizens of India under Article 21 of the Constitution.
“The aforesaid facts disclose an alarming state of affairs. To give in to pressure groups so that the citizenry of India is laid bare to a nationwide pandemic discloses a sorry state of affairs,” the bench said. “Even otherwise, homilies such as ‘as far as possible’ and assurances from traders without anything more, do not inspire any confidence in the people of India or this court,” it said.
The apex court noted that the affidavit filed by Kerala discloses a “sorry state of affairs” and does not in any real manner safeguard the Right to Life and Health guaranteed to all the citizens of India under Article 21 of the Constitution. “It may also be pointed out that the relaxation for one day to a category D area was wholly uncalled for,” it said, adding, “In these circumstances, we direct the state of Kerala to give heed to Article 21 read with Article 144 of the Constitution of India and follow the law laid down in our orders in the Uttar Pradesh case i.e. July 14, July 16, and July 19, 2021”.
The bench said if as a result of the July 17 notification, which declared certain relaxations in view of Bakrid, any untoward spread of COVID-19 takes place, any member of the public may bring this to the notice of the apex court which will take necessary action against those who are responsible. “Also, pressure groups of all kinds, religious or otherwise, cannot in any manner, interfere with this most precious Fundamental Right of all the citizens of India,” the bench said while disposing of an application which had raised the issue of relaxations in Kerala in view of Bakrid festival.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had announced the concessions at a press conference on July 17. In view of Bakrid (Eid-ul-Azha) being celebrated on July 21, textiles, footwear shops, jewelry, fancy stores, shops selling home appliances and electronic items, all types of repairing shops and shops selling essential items shall be allowed to open on July 18-20 from 7 am to 8 pm in category A, B, and C areas, he said.
The apex court had last week taken cognizance of its own media reports on the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra amid the Covid pandemic. On Monday, the top court had closed the matter related to Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh and asked the authorities to ensure that any untoward incident directly affecting the lives of the public shall be looked upon sternly and prompt action would be taken immediately.
 Kanwar Yatra In Uttar Pradesh Cancelled After Supreme Court’s Warning – Jul 17, 2021, Live Law
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